A project to construct a 100kW hydro installation at Whalley Weir on the River Calder in Whalley, Lancashire has reached completion.
The project – which was four years in the making – was constructed on private farmland and has the capability of generating on average 345,000 kWh of electricity each year.
Now fully operational, the facility will provide power for up to 90 homes, whilst also bringing numerous benefits to the local area, including the preservation of a 600 year old weir. In addition, the facility generates green energy, reducing the reliance on fossil fuels.
As well as creating a facility to generate energy, the project included the installation of a fish pass which facilitates the movement of fish upriver. The fish pass was officially approved by the Environment Agency.
The Whalley Hydro project is owned by Whalley Community Hydro (WCH) and was managed by the WCH Board. The WCH Board oversaw the on-going operations and maintenance, and will continue to work with the developer for the annual maintenance checks.
The main contractor on the project was Spaans Babcock Ltd, a leading contractor in the hydro power industry. The company has more than a hundred years’ experience in designing and building water treatment facilities, so was the ideal choice for this project.
Spaans Babcock Ltd was initially appointed on the project by WCH to do the pre-feasibility study, which subsequently led to the company providing consultancy and design services on the scheme. By the project’s completion Spaans Babcock Ltd provided a full turnkey solution.
Commenting on the project, David Brockington, Technical Sales Manager for Spaans Babcock Ltd, said:
“One of the first aspects of the project was to assess the site to establish the hydraulic availability – what are the levels and what is the flow? This then led to us develop a proposal for the Environment Agency, which was then followed by us providing the design for the fish pass.”
“Once we got planning permission for the design which we wanted to use, we were then given permission from the local electricity board to make a connection to the grid. The next stage was to design a detailed civil construction plan before the project went out to tender. William Pye Limited becoming the successful tenderer of this aspect of the project.”
William Pye Limited specialise in all aspects of civil engineering, from small footpath schemes to £1 million projects. Formed in 1958, the third-generation company is based in the North West and became involved with the Whalley Hydro scheme after being approached by Spaans Babcock Ltd to take on the civils work.
Speaking to Premier Construction, William Pye Limited’s Construction Manager, Mike Scott, said:
“William Pye Limited has been involved in nuclear power schemes in the past and we have conducted a lot of work for Electricity North West, so working on a project like this was just fantastic. Hydroelectric and alternative forms of energy are the way forward and this was a very interesting scheme to be involved with.”
Ian Johnson, the Contracts Manager for Spaans Babcock Ltd oversaw the project, working very closely with William Pye Limited.
“William Pye Limited managed the site on a day-to-day basis, conducting the groundworks and civil works, whilst I was on hand to ensure that they were moving in the right direction.”
Civil engineering work began on the project in May 2014, with electricity generation taking place in October 2014. The 26 week project was officially handed over in November 2014, as per the construction programme.
David Brockington, said:
“This was a good sized project and a local one for us, being just 40 minutes away from where we are based. As we designed the whole scheme we were delighted to see it perform and deliver exactly how we said it would.”
Now that the facility is operational, the electricity produced is being exported to the National Grid.
For more information about the Whalley Hydro project, please visit: www.whalleyhydro.co.uk.